Does Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" demonstrate the theme of good vs evil?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In your question regarding Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery," I do not believe that one of its themes is good vs evil. I believe this because the society does not see it in terms of a punishment. Tessie is not chosen intentionally. The stoning in the story is a time-honored—very old—tradition that this town has been carrying on since the village was first settled.

It is a way of life here. In order for it to be good or bad, I believe it would have to threaten or challenge the laws of the society of which it is a part. Or it would have to be contrary to the beliefs of the community. The only person who has a problem with it is Tessie, which is understandable as she is the one who will die.

There may be a symbolic message in the story regarding the apathy and general compliance of people who will follow as they are led without speaking up; we may see the practice like the behavior of sheep following their shepherd blindly. However, if the society does not regard this as something evil, and since the society is not divided in how it sees the lottery, I do not believe that socially or morally the town perceives the practice as a conflict between good and evil: that perception never comes into play here.